Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu has urged the house of bishops of the Church of Uganda to support the development of Uganda’s oil and gas sector, given the significant positive impact it is having, and will continue to have on Uganda.
She made this call during a meeting with the House of Bishops, chaired by His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Samuel S. Kaziimba Mugalu, the archbishop of the church of Uganda, that was held on 30th May 2022 at Bushara Island in Kabale District.
“The oil and gas sector can enhance Uganda’s economic and social development by providing access to affordable energy (access to electricity is 60% in urban areas and about 18% in rural areas), opportunities for decent employment, business, and skills development, increased fiscal revenues, and improved Infrastructure”, she remarked.
In his opening remarks His Grace, Dr. Kaziimba Mugalu, quoted Psalms 21 which emphasises that God has entrusted to his people the earth and everything in it as Lords.
“This calls on us to be good stewards and ensure proper management of the God given earthly wealth. As the church, we must provide the oversight and guidance required, and that is why we need this knowledge. Without knowledge, people perish”, said the archbishop.
In her presentation to the clergy, the Minister stressed that the implementation of the oil and gas projects in Uganda, especially putting in place the infrastructure presents enormous opportunities for fast tracking the country’s development through, among other things, the participation of Ugandans and Ugandan enterprises in providing the required goods and services.
“The key areas of focus in progressing national content include Employment of Ugandans, Skills Development and Capacity Building, Enterprise development, Use of Locally Produced Goods and Services together with Transfer of Knowledge and Technology”, added the Minister.
On the issue of the continued negative campaigns by some climate activists, the Minister said those campaigning against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) are against Uganda’s development. She said these were deliberate misrepresentations of facts related to environmental protection and human rights.
Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda re-assured the clergy on the progress of land acquisition allaying fears of the delay in compensation.
“The land acquisition process provides for a 30% disturbance allowance and now an additional 15% payment per year, over and above the approved compensation to cater for the delays. All affected persons will be compensated by end of 2022”, said Mr. Rubondo.
He said, “the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) have been compensated or resettled and are undertaking livelihood restoration projects in agriculture, financial literacy, vocational skills, among others. No land will be utilised by the projects before the compensation processes are concluded”.
Bishop Nathan Ahimbisibwe of Ankole South diocese appreciated the efforts being undertaken by the government in developing Uganda’s oil and gas sector. He said that “if this treasure is well managed, Uganda will see socio-economic progress”. The church leaders urged government to ensure that the benefits are seen by the local communities through positive discrimination, but also ensure that Uganda as a country reaps from the oil and gas sector.
They retaliated their support for the project given the information shared and urged government to continue sensitise Ugandans including leaders at the local governments.
Uganda’s oil and gas industry has progressed from the early exploration period, the discovery of commercial oil reserves and now the ongoing development stage which entails putting in place the infrastructure required to produce and commercialise Uganda’s oil resources. The launch of the Projects in April 2021 and the announcement of the Final Investment Decision in February 2022 triggered a period of three years of intense infrastructure development in preparation for first oil in 2025.